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Home Miscellany Smile Train India Builds the First Cleft-Inclusive Image Repository on Shutterstock

Smile Train India Builds the First Cleft-Inclusive Image Repository on Shutterstock

New Delhi, Delhi, India

During National Lipstick Day in July, which falls in the National Cleft Awareness Month; Smile Train – the world’s largest cleft focused charity, saw an opportunity to spark meaningful conversations around the inhibition that women with a cleft feel while wearing a bright shade of lipstick.

While executing the Lipstick Day campaign, the organization realized that representation of individuals with clefts was almost non-existent as there were no images of cleft-affected models available on AI platforms, leave alone the image banks.

In a country where more than 35,000 children are born with a cleft every year, there is not one image of a cleft-affected model. It was no longer about the lack of awareness around individuals with a cleft, but lack of representation. So, what began as a Lipstick Day campaign for cleft inclusivity evolved into a movement to address the underrepresentation of individuals with a cleft.

For this, Smile Train India, in collaboration with Tonic Worldwide, built the first cleft-inclusive image repository on Shutterstock. This repository is a ready source for brands and organizations to use for their day-to-day communication and take a small step towards a big change.

Mamta Carroll, Smile Train’s Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Asia, said, “While there are discussions about body positivity and representation of various skin tones, there is hardly any conversation around representation of individuals with clefts in the modeling and film industry. As the world’s largest cleft focused organization, one of our objectives is to create an enabling environment for people with clefts to thrive in life. Our Shutterstock project is a pioneering step to build a repository of stock images of cleft affected individuals that brands, corporations, and casting agencies may use for their communications materials and enable representation for individuals with a facial birth difference. I am extremely grateful to actor Sarika Singh and Sonaali Malhotra for their courage in being a part of this project.

Josna Joseph, Senior Creative Director at Tonic Worldwide, said, “The Lipstick Day campaign, for me as a woman and a marketer, was an opportunity to challenge the toxic beauty standards that have led to such intense biases and pathetic displays of discrimination against anything that looks or feels unfamiliar. Yes, we’ve had conversations around this, but not nearly enough. It’s why representation is so crucial. Though I yearn for the day when no representation, for any version of beauty, is required at all. As a first step, we have built a repository of images on Shutterstock. Several brands, who share our vision, are using these images in their communication. As an agency, we will be focusing more on inclusive scripts, cast, and campaigns.”

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